Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Heinrich Focke 1890-1979

Henrich Focke was a German aviation pioneer from Bremen. He was a co-founder of Focke-Wulf. He built a glider in 1909, and his first motorised plane, the Kolthoff-Focke A III, a year later. The A III was too underpowered to be airworthy. His next model, the A IV allowed his first motorised flight in 1912. He then joined forces with Georg Wulf and in 1914 they built the Focke-Wulf A VI. After the end of World War I, experimentation continued. Focke and Wulf built the new A VII around the engine from the A VI. In 1923, with Wulf and Dr. Werner Neumann, Focke co-founded Focke-Wulf, which developed and built large numbers of aircraft to support the Luftwaffe during World War II. Before the outbreak of war, Focke had parted ways from the company that continued to bear his name. In 1937 shareholder pressure ousted him, and he founded, with Gerd Achgelis, another company Focke Achgelis to specialise in helicopters. In 1951 he moved to Brazil. At the Brazilian General Command for Aerospace Technology (CTA) he conducted some ground tests with a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, called Convertiplano. The BF-1 Beija-Flor helicopter was a Prof. Focke design from 1956, at this time still working at CTA. A two-seater, the Beija Flor had its 225hp Continental E225 engine fitted in the nose, with a short coupling to the rotor pylon, which was mounted centrally in front of the crew. An open structure tubular steel tail boom carried a pair of tail surfaces and a small tail rotor. The prototype flew on 1st January 1959, and performed an extended flight-testing campaign until it was damaged in an accident. It is thought that further work on the Beija Flor was then abandoned. In 1956 Focke moves back from Brazil to Bremen.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

John William Fozard OBE 1928-1996

John Fozard (right) with Test Pilot John Farley

John William Fozard was the chief designer of the Harrier Jump Jet aircraft.
Forty plus years after its maiden flight in 1966, the vertical take-off Harrier continues to fly operationally with the RAF, and also with the US Marine Corps and the Spanish Navy.
In 1963 Fozard was appointed Chief Designer on the project to build the Hawker P 1154 Kestrel, the forerunner of the Harrier, and he came to the revolutionary concept of Vertical/Short Take-off and Landing with a strong reputation.
After serving an engineering apprenticeship with Blackburn Aircraft, he had joined Hawkers in 1950 as a design engineer under Sir Sydney Camm, whose historic designs included the Hart (1928), and the Hurricane prototype (1935).
As Fozard nursed the Harrier into being it was obvious to old Hawker hands that something of Camm had rubbed off on him. "Cammisms" were instantly recognisable even when camouflaged in "Fozprose", as his immaculate memoranda, correspondence and papers were termed.
His clarity of presentation, plain speaking and directness of approach were weapons in his career-long war against the reputed inarticulacy of engineers.
Fozard also believed in making himself available not only to members of his design and development team but also to those who, borrowing from Camm, he described as "fringe" people. He always found time to discuss difficulties and progress with them.
Fozard called the Harrier "the world's most misunderstood aircraft". Reflecting on his long battle to gain acceptance for Vertical Take-off and Landing, Fozard, pipe in hand and pushing back in his office chair, would explain the resistance: "The military man wants things he knows something about - more and better. He does not want to change quickly, and stays with the familiar - longer range, better airfields, bigger than before."

Sir Stanley George Hooker 1907-1984

Sir Stanley George Hooker was a jet engine engineer, first at Rolls-Royce where he worked on the earliest designs such as the Welland and Derwent, and later at Bristol Aero Engines where he helped bring the troubled Proteus and Olympus to market, and then designed the famous Pegasus.

Stanley George Hooker was born at Sheerness and educated at Borden Grammar School. He won a scholarship for Imperial College London to study mathematics, and in particular, hydrodynamics. He became more interested in aerodynamics, and moved to Brasenose College, Oxford where he received his PhD in this area in 1935.
In late 1937 he applied for a job at Rolls-Royce, and started there in January 1938. He was able to study anything that caught his fancy, and soon moved into the supercharger design department. He started researching the superchargers used on the Merlin engine, and demonstrated that large improvements could be made to their efficiency. His recommendations were put into the production line for newer versions, notably the Merlin 45, improving its power by approximately 30%, and then the Merlin 61.

The Merlin 45 went into the Spitfire Mk V in October 1940, which was produced in the greatest number of any Spitfire variant. The two-stage supercharged Merlin 61 went into the Spitfire Mk IX, the second most-produced variant, which went into service in July 1942. This latter aircraft arrived in time to give the Spitfire a desperately needed advantage in rate of climb and service ceiling over the Butcher Bird, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. This variant of the Merlin was also to become the powerplant of the North American P-51 Mustang, and due to its efficiency, gave the Mustang the ability to fly to Berlin, attack the defending German fighters, and return home; this engine and the laminar flow Mustang wing was the secret of its success.

The mathematics involved in optimising the efficiency of a supercharger, which Hooker developed, were the basis of the mathematics needed to make a gas turbine run efficiently. All jet engines, except for turbineless ones such as ram-jets, are based upon the equations used to develop the Merlin.

In 1940 Hooker was introduced to Frank Whittle, who was in the process of setting up production of his first production-quality jet engine, the W.2. In 1941 the Air Ministry had offered contracts to Rover to start production, but Whittle was growing increasingly frustrated with their inability to deliver various parts to start testing the new engine. Hooker was excited, and in turn brought Rolls-Royce chairman Ernest Hives to visit Rover's factory in Barnoldswick. Whittle mentioned his frustrations, and Hives told Whittle to send him the plans for the engine. Soon Rolls' Derby engine and supercharger factories were supplying the needed parts.

Rover was no happier with the state of affairs than Whittle. In 1942 Maurice Wilkes of Rover met Hives and Hooker in a pub near the factory. Wilkes and Hives eventually came to an agreement whereby Rover would take over production of the Rolls-Royce Meteor tank engine factory in Nottingham and Rolls would take over the jet engine factory in Barnoldswick. Hooker soon found himself as chief engineer of the new factory, delivering the W.2 as the Welland. Wellands went on to power the earliest models of the Gloster Meteor, and a development of the Welland known as the Derwent powered the vast majority of the later models.
Whittle had moved to the US in 1942 to help General Electric get the W.2 into production there, returning in early 1943. Hooker also visited in 1943, and was surprised to find they had made extensive changes and raised the power to 4,000 lbf (18 kN). Upon his return to England he decided that Rolls should recapture the power lead, and in 1944 the team started development of a larger version of the Derwent that was delivered as the 5,500 lbf (24,000 N) Nene. While this proved to be a successful design, it was not used widely on British designs, and Rolls eventually sold a license to the United States, and later, several engines to the Soviet Union, which then went on to copy it unlicensed. This set off a major political row, and soon the MiG-15, powered by a copy of the Nene, was outperforming anything the British or US had to counter it.

Meanwhile Hooker's team had moved onto their first axial-flow design, then known as the AJ.65 but soon to be renamed the Avon. The Avon did not turn out well at first, and Hooker felt he was being blamed for its problems. At the same time Rolls decided that their existing piston engines were a dead-end, and moved all future jet work from Barnoldswick to Derby, their main engine site. This reduced Hooker's role in the company, and after an emotional falling-out with Hives, he left.
In January 1949 Hooker started work at the Bristol Aero Engine company. He immediately started work on sorting out the various problems of Bristol's turboprop design, the Proteus, which was intended to power a number of Bristol aircraft designs, including the Britannia. The task of rectifying the many faults of the Proteus was immense, but most were solved. But a near-fatal accident with Britannia G-ALRX in February 1954 due to a spur gear failure prompted a telephone call from his old boss Hives, who subsequently sent his top team of Rolls-Royce jet engineers, composed of Elliott, Rubbra, Lovesey, Lombard, Howarth and Davies, to give Hooker some desperately needed help. Sadly this was the last communication between the two great men.

The Proteus was soon in production, but did not see widespread use, and only a small number of Britannias were built. Hooker also worked on finishing the Olympus, developing later versions that would be used on the Avro Vulcan and Concorde.

In 1952 Hooker was approached by the Folland company and asked if he could produce a 5,000 lbf (22 kN) thrust engine to power their new lightweight fighter, the Gnat. For this role he produced his first completely original design, the Orpheus, which went on to power the Fiat G91 and other light fighters. Hooker then used the Orpheus as the basis of an experimental vectored-thrust engine for VTOL aircraft, at that time considered by most to be the next big thing in aircraft design. By equipping an Orpheus to bleed off air from the compressor and turbine the thrust could be directed downwards, creating the Pegasus engine and leading to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier that used it.

In the late 1950s the Air Ministry forced through a series of mergers in the aerospace field that left only two airframe companies and two engine companies. Bristol was merged with Armstrong Siddeley to become Bristol Siddeley in 1958, while most other remaining engine companies merged with Rolls. In 1966 Bristol Siddeley was itself bought by the now cash-flush Rolls, with the result that there was only one engine company in England. After a brief period, Hooker retired in 1967, staying on as a consultant only. In 1970 he retired fully, and was upset that after almost 30 years in the industry he had never become director of engine development.
In 1971 Rolls-Royce was bankrupted by its hugely expensive RB.211 project. While trying to save the company and the project, Kenneth Keith, the new chairman who had been put to rescue the company, persuaded Hooker to return to Rolls full-time. As technical director he led a team of other retirees to fix the problems, and soon the RB.211 was in production. Its first application was for Lockheed's L-1011 Tri-Star. Hooker was knighted for his role in 1974. After another four years he retired once again in 1978.

During his return to Rolls-Royce, Sir Stanley was part of several high-level trade missions to China. These led to him becoming Honorary Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at Beijing University

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Major Robert H. Mayo 1890-1957

Major Robert H. Mayo, Technical General Manager at Imperial Airways (and later a designer at Shorts) proposed mounting a small, long-range seaplane on top of a larger carrier aircraft, using the combined power of both to bring the smaller aircraft to operational height, at which time the two aircraft would separate, the carrier aircraft returning to base while the other flew on to its destination

Frank Bernard Halford 1894-1955

Major Frank Bernard Halford, John L. P. Brodie and Eric S. Moult, with the De Haviland Goblin Turbojet, standard power unit of the De Haviland Vampire Fighter. 1945

Frank Bernard Halford was an English aircraft engine designer. - Educated at Felsted, In 1913 he left the University of Nottingham before graduating to learn to fly at Brooklands and Bristol Flying School and became a flight instructor using Bristol Boxkites. - He served in the First World War, in the Aeronautical Inspection Department of the Air Ministry as an engine examiner, and the Royal Flying Corps where he fought at the front. Recalled to engineering duties he improved and enlarged the water-cooled six-cylinder Austro-Daimler, producing the 230 hp (170 kW) Beardmore Halford Pullinger (BHP). This engine was further developed by Armstrong Siddeley as the Puma. - In 1922 he rode a 4-valve Triumph Ricardo in the Senior TT, finishing 13th. That same year he was commissioned to produce a luxury motorcycle for Vauxhall. Based on aero-engine principles, it featured an in-line unit construction four cylinder engine, with shaft drive to the rear wheel. Four examples were made, one exists in a private collection in the Isle of Man. - In 1923 he set up his own consultancy in London, alongside the equally influential engine designer Harry Ricardo. There he designed the famous de Havilland Gipsy air-cooled inline engines, copying the success of the Cirrus Engine company in the general aviation role. - During this period Frank Halford also designed and had built the AM Halford Special racing car which he raced at Brooklands in the 1926 RAC British Grand Prix, as well as in many other races in 1925 and 1926. - During the 1930s Halford and Ricardo became interested in the sleeve valve as a method of increasing the allowable operating RPM of piston engines, thereby increasing the power from an otherwise smaller engine. While Ricardo worked with Bristol Engines, Halford worked with Napier & Son on their Sabre design which would go on to be one of the most powerful piston aero engines, producing 3,500 hp (2.6 MW) from only 2200 cubic inches (36 L) in late-war versions. During the war he became interested in jet engines, and designed a simplified version of Frank Whittle's centrifugal-flow designs with the air intake on the front and "straight-through" combustion chambers. Known initially as the Halford H.1, the project was taken up by de Havilland who produced it as the de Havilland Goblin. Halford's company was eventually purchased outright by de Havilland in 1944. Halford continued working on jets, turboprop and rocket engines.

George Herbert Miles 1911-1999

George Herbert Miles was born on July 28 1911 at Portslade, on the Sussex coast, where his father owned the Star Model Laundry. It was there, amid the clutter of wicker baskets, that George's elder brother Fred began to build the family's first aeroplane.

By 1929, at nearby Shoreham, Fred Miles had set up the Southern Aircraft Company in order to build a single-seat biplane, the Martlet. After leaving Hove College, George joined him to manage the fast-developing aircraft works, flying school and joyride business.

George Miles was quieter and more reflective than his extrovert brother, but he shared his flair for design. He complemented Fred's drive and impetuosity with a logical and incisive mind.

When the first Martlet was ready, it was bought by Maxine "Blossom" Freeman-Thomas, daughter of the actors Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson and Gertrude Elliott. Blossom Freeman- Thomas adored her Martlet. She was also rather keen on Fred Miles, who taught her to fly it. In due course, Blossom divorced her husband, heir to the Marquess of Willingdon, and married Miles. She also became a director and designer of the aircraft company.

In the early 1930s, leaving George to mind the shop at Shoreham, Fred and Blossom Miles joined with Charles Powis - a Reading garage owner with aeronautical ambitions - to establish Phillips & Powis Aircraft at Woodley, Berks. In 1933, having identified a market for an affordable light aircraft to compete with de Havilland's Moths, Phillips & Powis produced the Hawk, a wooden, low-wing monoplane which would establish the Mileses' reputation in air races.

As new types of aircraft multiplied, the time came for George to join Fred and Blossom Miles as engine manager and test pilot. Among their new designs was a custom-built Mohawk for Charles Lindbergh, the American aviator, who commissioned this fast, long-range cabin tourer. In seeking to keep a record of their aircraft plans, the Mileses also invented an early photocopier - the "Copy-cat".

As war loomed, the Mileses' designs were much in demand at the Air Ministry. The Hawk became an RAF trainer, and an Elementary Reserve Flying Training School was established at Woodley. The Miles trio also devised an early flight simulator, and in 1938 began to rollout the Miles Master, a two-seater tandem fighter trainer, more complex in design and operation than the Hawk. By September 1940, 500 of these aircraft had been built, and they had played a key role in the training of Hurricane and Spitfire pilots before the Battle of Britain.

The same team also designed the Miles Magister - known as "Maggie" - the RAF's first monoplane trainer and one in which thousands of their pilots learnt to fly.

The family then set up Miles Aircraft, which came to incorporate Phillips & Powis; in 1941 Fred Miles became chairman and managing director. George, then aged 30, was appointed technical director and chief designer.

As chief designer, George Miles held ambitions beyond building the simple trainers which had laid the foundations of the company's success. In some instances, his unorthodox ideas so exasperated the authorities that he felt compelled to conceal new designs from them. One such secret project was the experimental Libellula canard-wing aircraft, which Miles saw as the answer to the problem of operating high performance fighters from aircraft carriers.

When the prototype Libellula was ready for its clandestine maiden flight, the company's chief test pilot refused to fly the strange- looking machine, whose main lifting surface was at the rear. '.Very well," said Miles, "I'll take her up." It proved to be a hair-raising 'and hazardous experience, but despite its instability, the aeroplane's eccentric wing scheme provided many useful insights.

From 1943, George Miles helped his brother with the M.52, an experimental jet aircraft which promised to lead the world in supersonic flight. But in 1946 the government-funded project was abruptly cancelled by Sir Stafford Cripps, Minister of Aircraft Production. Cripps compounded the blow by ordering the Mileses to hand over their designs to the American Bell Aircraft Company. On October 14 1947, Major Chuck Yeager, of the United States air force, made the world's first supersonic flight in a Bell-X1.

As military orders declined, Miles Aircraft sought to replace them with civil ones. George Miles was involved in the designs of the Messenger (one of which was used by Field Marshal Montgomery), Monitor, Gemini, Aerovan and Merchantman aircraft. He also helped with subsidiary activities, such as the contract to market the Biro ballpoint pen outside the United States. But the new ventures were not lucrative enough, and in 1948 the company collapsed.

George Miles moved to Airspeed, and in 1949 became chief designer there. Among the aircraft which he helped to build for them was the Ambassador, known to airline passengers as the British European Airways Elizabethan. Subsequently, Fred Miles reestablished the Miles name in the aircraft business at Redhill, and in 1953 he returned to Shoreham, where George Miles rejoined him.

When, in 1960, Beagle Aircraft was set up to build light aeroplanes, George Miles, by then a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, became the company's technical director. Three years later he left to establish his own aircraft engineering business.

Frederick George Miles 1903-1976

Frederick George Miles was born on 22 March 1903 in Worthing Sussex the oldest of four sons of Frederick, a laundry proprietor, and his wife Esther. He left school early in 1916 and started a motorcycle rental business. Miles soon became interested in aircraft and in 1922 he designed then built with some friends and his brother George a small biplane called the Gnat at the back of his father's laundry in Portslade. The aircraft was not flown but proved an interesting and inspiring project for the young Miles and his brother who had formed the Gnat Aero and Motor Company Limited. He was taught to fly by local pilot Cecil Pashley at Shoreham Airport and after gaining his licence he persuaded Pashley to enter into a partnership and start a flying school and joyriding business. The company soon expanded into aircraft repairs and then split into two separate companies in 1926; the Southern Aero Club and Southern Aircraft. One of the aircraft Miles acquired was an Avro Baby which he modified to turn it into an a erobatic sports aircraft which he called the Southern Martlet

In 1930 Miles intended to emigrate to South Africa to remove himself from a difficult situation when he fell in love with one of his pupils, but he returned after a year and then married the former pupil Maxine Freeman-Thomas a recent divorcee and always known as Blossom. Together they designed a single-seat biplane in 1932 (the Miles M1 Satyr), which was built for them by George Parnall & Co of Yate, Gloucestershire. Also in 1932 he met Charles Powis a motor engineer and owner of an aircraft business Phillips & Powis based at Woodley Aerodrome near Reading. Miles agreed to design a cheap but modern light monoplane which he called the Miles Hawk it was built by Phillips and Powis at Woodley Aerodrome, Reading. The Hawk sold well and Miles joined the company as technical director and chief designer. His brother followed him as a test pilot and manager of the engine section. Other successful designs followed including one special commissioned from Miles by Charles Lindbergh and known as the Miles Mohawk.[1]
In 1935 the Phillips and Powis became a public company with Rolls-Royce Limited becoming a major shareholder. Miles became chairman and managing director and his brother Herbert became technical director and chief designer. With the expansion of the Royal Air Force the company won a contract worth £2 million pounds for the Miles Magister basic trainer.
Rolls-Royce lost interest in the company and in 1941 Miles bought financial control of the company which he renamed Miles Aircraft Limited in 1943. Miles and his wife also started the Miles Aeronautical School to train apprentice technicians and draughtsman.
In 1943 Miles was shown a prototype ballpoint pen made by László Bíró and offered to produce them for the Royal Air Force. The ministry were concerned that it would distract from aircraft production but Miles eventually persuaded government officials to let him use 17 unskilled girls to produce the pen which was called the biro after the inventor. When the war finished the Reading biro factory which would employ 700 people became the Miles Martin Pen Company and the biro was sold to the general public.
With his brother now Chief Designer for the aircraft Miles concentrated on a design for a supersonic aircraft (the M.52) powered by the then secret Whittle jet engine. The government contract and the programme was cancelled in 1946 but not before all Miles's work was passed on to the United States government and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA - later to become NASA). Reminiscent of the M.52 the Bell X-1 was the first manned aircraft to break the sound barrier in 1947. Problems with the return to civil production led to the collapse of Miles Aircraft in 1948
Undeterred Miles started a new company F.G. Miles Engineering and moved back to Shoreham in 1949. In 1961 the company became part of the new Beagle Group and Miles became the deputy chairman and his brother was chief designer. The Beagle group collapsed in 1969 so Miles went on to form other engineering companies involved with flight simulators, aircraft structures and other aviation projects.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Sir Frederick William Page CBE FREng 1917-2005

After a starred First at Cambridge and an apprenticeship at the Hawker Aircraft Co during the Second World War, Freddie Page joined the aircraft division of English Electric at Preston in 1945 as "chief stressman". There, under the chief engineer WEW Petter, he was a member of the team which created the first British jet bomber, the Canberra. Though the overall concept was Petter's, much of the radical thinking underlying it was Page's, driven by painstaking scientific analysis.

The prototype flew in May 1949; Page became assistant chief designer in that year and succeeded Petter as chief engineer in 1950. The Canberra - of which 1,352 were eventually built - saw service with 15 air forces around the world over the next 50 years.

Page's next project was the P1 prototype, the first British aircraft to achieve supersonic speeds in level flight. This led to the development of the Lightning fighter, which went into service with the RAF in 1960. In its advanced form, to the envy of American engineers of the era, the Lightning achieved supersonic climbing speeds and exceeded Mach 2 in level flight. It was another export success - notably to Saudi Arabia, where Page forged relationships which were the foundation of a substantial flow of contracts for BAC and British Aerospace in later years.

Page had been appointed chief executive of the aircraft division of English Electric Aviation in 1959. In 1960, at the instigation of the air minister, Duncan Sandys, the company became part of a tripartite merger with Vickers-Armstrong and Bristol Aeroplane to form the British Aircraft Corporation, which had the contract to build a new supersonic strike-reconnaissance aircraft, the ill-fated TSR2.

It was Page's old mentor at Hawker, Sir Sidney Camm, who said: "All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR2 simply got the first three right." Despite Page's best efforts as the project's chief engineer, and his willingness when necessary to face down ministers and officials with irrefutable logic, the TSR2 was mired in problems. By 1965 its estimated cost had tripled to £750 million, and its first delivery date had slipped by at least two years; under pressure to find budget cuts, the Labour defence minister, Denis Healey, announced TSR2's cancellation.

At the same time, however, an agreement was signed with the French government to produce an advanced naval attack aircraft, the Jaguar, in a joint venture between BAC and Breguet Aviation. Page was co-chairman of the Jaguar joint venture company, Sepecat, and was also later chairman of Panavia, a company formed with Fiat and Messerschmitt to develop the Tornado fighter.

From 1967 he was chairman of the military aircraft division of BAC, and from 1972 he was also chairman of the commercial aircraft side - in which capacity he performed the official handover of the last Concorde built for British Airways. When BAC became part of the nationalised British Aerospace in 1977, Page joined the board and was chairman of the aircraft group until 1982.

A recipient of both the British Gold Medal for Aeronautics (1962) and the Gold Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society (1974), he commanded universal respect in his industry and was particularly revered by the younger engineers whose careers he encouraged. His final involvement in the military field was to oversee early project studies for what emerged as the Eurofighter joint venture.

Frederick William Page was born at Wimbledon on February 20 1917, the son of a chauffeur who was killed while serving in the First World War. Freddie was brought up by his mother in very modest circumstances but won scholarships first to Rutlish School, Merton, and then to St Catherine's College, Cambridge, where he achieved the rare distinction of a double starred First in the Mechanical Science tripos.

Having known since his teens that he wanted to design aircraft, he began his career in 1938 in the Hawker works at Kingston-upon-Thames, where he trained under Sidney Camm, the designer of the Hurricane fighter bomber. Page worked on the Hurricane Mk II and the Typhoon and Tempest before moving to English Electric at the end of the war.

He was appointed CBE in 1961 and knighted in 1979. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

After retiring from the board of British Aeropsace in 1983, Page devoted himself to gardening, latterly at Christchurch in Dorset, where he also enjoyed listening to classical music and taking long walks on the seafront.